Alabama Coach Nick Saban made his way to the College Football Playoff media hotel in Scottsdale Tuesday morning in order to formally pose with the trophy won by his team, 45-40, over Clemson, and to answer a few last questions.
Many were rehash questions, but a couple brought forth interesting answers.
Regarding whether the job was taking its toll, he said, “I don’t feel it takes a toll, as long as I enjoy being around players.” He said that while he knows that college football is entertainment and that winning games is important. “But,” he said, “from a program standpoint, from a philosophy standpoint, helping these young guys develop as people,” including being educated, “is what college football is all about.”
That led to a somwhat surprising question that Saban had mentioned retirement and whether he had talked with his family about it.
“Well, I didn’t know I said anything about that,” Saban said, “but the one thing I have always said is I’ve been a part of a team since I was nine years old. It scares me to ever think of the day when I wouldn’t be a part of the team. The feeling that you get being associated with a group like this makes you want to do it more.
“I know you can’t do this forever, but I certainly enjoy the moment and certainly look forward to the future challenges that we have and really have no timetable for ever not being a part of a team.”
That led to the rebuilding job that he will have to do for the 2016 Crimson Tide.
He said, “When you have success, and we’ve had this just about every year, I think it’s a transition that every team has to go through, and it’s like taking a new job. It’s a new season, it’s a new team, new group of guys, new leadership. People are in different roles and that’s the challenge each and every year. Obviously, recruiting is important and continuity is important in recruiting. Players are important in recruiting, relationships are important in recruiting.
“So all these things are just transitions that you have to go through to try to do the best to build the strongest team for next year.”
One reason Alabama will have a significant “transition” is that as is almost always the case, a handful of juniors will declare for the NFL draft. Saban said he would be meeting with those players and their families onWednesday. He was pleased that all of the juniors who were interested in having their draft status analyzed decided to wait until after all Bama games had been played before exploring the situation.
“I really appreciate the maturity that our guys showed this year in terms of staying focused on what was important for the team, and putting that first.
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“I think that worked out really well for us.”